I wear the face of a clown. When is the smile not real?

I posted David Matthews story about his daughter Allison and for that post, I searched for a photo on Google.

The suicide was highly publicized.  She died by suicide shortly after moving to California due to PPD, Postpartum Depression. No one knew about it.

I think new moms in particular feel intense shame for their suicidal thoughts. After all, this is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, right? Lack of sleep is likely a contributing factor. And right after having a baby is a particularly tough time to move because your support system vanishes and feelings of loneliness and despair surface. So many moms don’t reveal their pain.

I chose this photo for the post. Something about it kind of haunted me. Jumped out at me really.

amy goldstein
Amy Goldstein died by suicide after suffering PPD just weeks after moving

I found out later that this was the one she posted the night before she took her life. Her smile is not really reaching her eyes. A friend of hers told me that someone asked to find a recent picture of Allison where it showed in her eyes, and when she went back and looked through recent photos, she noticed it, too. She could not find one.

Then I remembered some of Charles’ photos when he sort of “faked a smile” for the camera. As he said in his music, “I wear the face of a clown.”

This is the one of Charles on the porch with his dog is a “fake smile.” The smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. Kind of like Allison’s. While this was not right before he took his life, it is during a major depressive episode.

This is so so subtle.

But I have to tell you that I spot it now more easily in people although I’m sure I miss more than I catch.

These two below I’ve posted before. It shows him smiling but I caught the depression shot right before.

Once Charles put his smile on for the camera
I caught his pain here before he “wore the mask of a clown”

Genuine Charles smile with his family. I can see it in his eyes. He was laughing right before this one. Family gatherings usually brought out the best in Charles although I remember times at the beach and in Asheville when it was not. Depression hits when it wants to hit not paying any attention to what’s going on externally.

The one below is probably one of his worse fakes. He’s in a therapeutic boarding school in New York. He hated it.

So don’t believe smiling pictures on Facebook are telling the real story. They often do hide pain and a life you don’t know about.

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AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

4 thoughts on “I wear the face of a clown. When is the smile not real?”

  1. I tell people I put on the “smile that I keep in a jar by the door…who is it for?” an eleanor rigby smile…

  2. The eyes are the windows to the soul, aren’t they? So poignant… The pictures of the 4 guys really struck me the first time you posted both, and again today. Sometimes the struggle completely overtakes you and emotion, the smile, the twinkling eyes just are not there. Haunting.

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